In our image saturated world, the photographic holiday card is yet another ritualistic way that people exchange pictures. What’s interesting about these cards is that they often come from people that we don’t see at all during the regular year, and so this is their one chance to give us a glimpse of their lives from afar.
As we have somewhat young children in our house, our card bowl is overflowing with shots of other people’s kids: in perfectly posed and matching outfits, in costumes, in exotic locales, and in one particularly odd example this year, underwater. Adults are never seen in these images, unless it is a “family photo” (i.e. the one staged shot taken during the entire year when all of the family got into the frame, likely at some family gathering/reunion or taken by some random stranger passing by at just the right moment).
A decade ago, these pictures would have been actual film pictures, stuck onto the outside or tucked into the fold of the card. With the advent of digital technology, only the Luddites are still doing this. (I say this knowing that we did indeed send out actual printed pictures this year, as we went with a snappy letter press card.) Most folks have migrated to an online source (Shutterfly or the like), where their digital picture is merged into a template and printed together as one piece on card stock. To our eyes, while these cards might be “produced” better, they seem to have lost some of the craftiness and personality of the old kind. They all look the same, even when the photos are of people we know.
Artists and photographers have long sent holiday cards as well, usually not of their kids, but actual mini art objects. Our favorite is the one below:
Mapplethorpe got it just right. (Christmas Tree, 1987, above.) Simple, elegant, and somehow entirely festive at the same time.
This post will be our last of 2008, so there is no need to come back and check for something new in the remaining days of this year – there won’t be anything, we promise. We will back with passionate, daily posting on January 5th.
We have thoroughly enjoyed the process of writing this blog in the past months and thank you wholeheartedly for taking the time to listen. If you are feeling particularly generous this year, introduce our blog to a handful of other collectors or photo enthusiasts that you know. There’s nothing like a personal referral from a taste maker to get people interested in something new, and we will do our best to live up to your recommendation.
Overall, we look forward with great optimism and anticipation to new shows, new auctions, new books, and stunning photography of all kinds in 2009. Best wishes.